Billy Wilder’s top 10 screenwriting tips
I may soon be delving into the world of scriptwriting as part of my Writing MA. So, as Billy Wilder was the co-writer and director of Some Like it Hot and The Apartment, two of the movies I’d want to have with me if I was ever stranded on a desert island, I thought I’d see if he’d shared any useful tips on the craft. Here are his top tips:
- The audience is fickle.
- Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you’re going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
- A tip from Lubitsch*: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
*Ernst Lubitsch, Academy Award winning director of Heaven Can Wait, known as a master of innuendo who hated saying things the obvious way.
- The Business of Screenwriting: Learn the craft (gointothestory.blcklst.com)